Summer Bassin’

Now that school is officially out, I thought I’d have some time to do some fishing and head down to the coast to target a species that I haven’t had a chance to target yet…the speckled trout. Yep. When I look at what I’ve caught this year, it shows I’ve caught only 4 redfish, no trout, but a ton of bass. That’s because whenever my schedule does allow me to fish, the weather does not. I’ve been off this week and the winds have been blowing 10-15 mph all week long. I’m thinking I may have to say, “damned the torpedos!” and head to the marsh anyway.

No more venting here though. This is my fishing blog and I will conform and write about my last two or so trips. One of my friends had me over and told me they will be selling their home, complete with acreage and a small pond that has provided me with lots of fun mornings and late afternoons chasing small bass and nice bream. I decided to give it a shot one last time and I was rewarded with a nice mess of bream for the fryer. The bream didn’t bite until around 7 PM, but they were smacking a small popper in some moving water and I was able to put about 20 of them on a stringer before the mosquitos ran me off the water. I told my dad he would be so happy with me. He grew up in the Great Depression and he cannot stand to see anything go to waste. He cannot understand why I would spend a morning fishing and not keep any of the fish I catch 🙂 I Told him that the thrill for me is to catch them on flies I tie myself and I have a freezer full of bream, sacalait, redfish, tuna, and snapper. I don’t need to keep any more. I mostly practice “catch and release” these days. However, when I get on a good bream bite and most of them are between 7 and 9 inches long, I practice catch and release all right…release them into a hot skillet of grease 🙂 So, I kept eight for myself and I vacuum-sealed the rest for my buddy and his wife to enjoy. IMG_2469.jpg

I mentioned earlier that I’ve caught a ton of bass this spring. I made it out to my neighborhood lake and my doctor friend’s lake and caught 10 on frog poppers and shad flies. I find that I loose as many as I land, though, and it gets a bit frustrating. I think I have good hook sets but somehow, when the fish changes direction, it spits the hook. I’ve tried setting the hook harder but even then, I find I’ve pulled the hook right out of the fish’s mouth. I’m using sharp Gamakatsu hooks too. I guess it’s part of the game. A couple trips ago I had another friend and his wife fish the same lake with conventional tackle. I easily outfitted them 2 to 1, so I guess I’m not complaining 🙂

GOPR3896.jpgGOPR3894.jpgGOPR3898.jpgGOPR3901.jpgGOPR3899.jpgNotice, they are all healthy fish. The largest in these pictures weighed 2.9 pounds. I did catch one in my neighborhood lake that was 3.1 lbs on a subsurface shad fly.GOPR3902 2.jpg
When I haven’t been fishing, I’ve been preparing for my various summer band camps that I will teach and a deer fly tying class as well. That had led me to refine my tying skills and experiment with new patterns. One of my latest is this baby duck. While I know that bass are opportunistic and will eat anything that looks like food, this baby is going to go under glass somewhere and sit on a mantle. IMG_2481.jpg
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Here’s a commission job I did as well.

One more thing. Many people look at these flies and wonder about durability and fishability. I think the pictures of the bass speak for themselves about the fishability. As for the durability, I find that they hold up pretty well. Here’s a frog fly that I used during a recent trip. I landed 8 bass and probably lost at least as many. It did get messed up and the bass had knocked both eyes out of their sockets.

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Glue and eyes are cheap, so guess what? I think it’s going to catch another 8 or so before I have to retire it.

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Spring trip to CENLA

Spring trip to CENLA

Although it isn’t officially spring yet, I’ve been itching to make the 3 hour drive north to my buddy’s house in central Louisiana (CENLA) to do some bass, crappie, bluegill, red-ear sunfish…and whatever else would bite on a fly rod trip. I left Baton Rouge right after school and met Catch at the launch site to fish Lake Valentine. For about an hour-and-a-half, we fished the clear water in the lake and I actually skunked. I was fishing a new frog pattern (see my previous post) and I couldn’t get a bite. Catch, however caught a half dozen or so bass and had this nice one that he caught on a small, dark green popper.IMG_2207.jpg

Then next day, we got up early and headed over to the same lake to try the morning bite. I managed a couple of dinks but nothing substantial. Catch had similar luck and by 10:30 or so, we decided to call it a morning, regroup, and try “plan B.” The wind had picked up substantially and the fish just weren’t cooperating. What a difference 12 hours makes! We were treated to some beautify wildlife, including this friendly little guy.IMG_2256.jpg

Anyway, plan B was to fish another local lake for some coveted crappie, (also know as sacalait or white perch). I have a friend who’s dad is getting up in age and I promised him some fish for a fry. He loves sacalait too! We probably arrived at Fullerton Lake around 2 PM and fished until sunset. Catch started catching bass right off the bat. I wanted to target sacalait so our strategies differed. He was fishing with poppers while I fished mostly a fluff butt (actually a “silly” butt). I wasn’t having any luck with the sacalait but I did catch two bull bream over 8 inches. I paddled over to Catch to see what he was doing and he said he had caught and released about a dozen small bass. The bass in Fullerton aren’t as big as those in Valentine. Fullerton is loaded with downed trees and logs and makes a perfect habitat for the coveted panfish. We, however, had missed the major spawning period for the crappie and reports hadn’t been that good. I did manage to catch two really nice ones (14 and 15 inches). When I added those to the bream and the one sacalait that Catch caught, we ended up with a nice stringer of 9 bull bream and three sacalait. I caught 4 bass on poppers and Catch caught 21. I was disappointed that I didn’t get any strikes on my deer hair frog. I downsized my popper and that’s when I began to catch some bass. On a side note, I don’t think I can recall ever fishing in a place that had so many BULL FROGS. They were croaking all afternoon. I even saw several in the grass along the banks. I tried to get a picture but I spooked the one that I was able to get close to. Here are a few pictures from the day.

IMG_2258.jpgThat’s a 15-inch slab!
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A chunky bass caught on the fly rod in Lake Valentine Saturday morning.

I did manage to get some pictures of Catch casting from his kayak.
Hee is a series of pictures I took. He makes it look effortless.

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Putting the “Fat” into Fat Tuesday, part 2

Part two actually begins Monday evening Lundi Gras when Glen and I pulled up to a local restaurant, Tunks Cypress Inn, to drink a celebratory beer and chow down on some hot boiled crawfish. The placemats there have a map of Kincade Lake. We planned strategy as we ate and noted the weather report for Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) was calling for very high winds from the south. After hashing over it for a while, we decided to launch our kayaks in Kincade the next morning and target big chinquapin (red-ear sunfish) and sacalait (crappie). The hills and big camps on the lake should provide us a little relief from the high winds.

We began our morning by chunking small poppers in shallow water. Surprisingly, we caught lots of bream early on. I managed a couple chinquapin that were around the 8-inch mark and I decided to put some on a stringer to have a fish fry for Ash Wednesday. The morning was actually slow for me and I tried to keep close to Catch so we could communicate but I kept going back to this one spot where I caught a nice big fat bluegill, knowing there had to be some more there. At about 11:30, Catch whistled over to me and I saw that he was heading back to the launch. I figured he was tired of fighting the wind and he had had enough. I had five fish on a stringer, including a pretty nice sac alit that I caught on a hare’s ear nymph. When I got back to the launch site, Catch was excited and mumbled something about me staying there to watch his kayak while he went to buy ice. He said,”I found ’em, I left ’em biting, and I’ll be back with some ice.” I went over to take a peek in his fish bag and I was blown away by the huge bream (chinquapin) and sacalait he had in there.

Let me tell you something about Glen. People don’t just call him “Catch” for nothing. He has caught more fish on a fly-rod than any one else I’ve ever met. Now, I haven’t met Lefty Kreh yet, but Lefty is 92 and Glen is only…well, I won’t tell. 🙂 Catch tells me what fly he was using (a green fluff butt in a size 10). Naturally, I don’t have any of those but Catch gives me a couple and says he’ll be back shortly.

When he got back, we proceeded to head back into the wind to the little secluded finger lake, or protected cove and we started fishing where he had caught his earlier. I was stripping an olive colored fluff butt without a strike indicator when I got my first hit. It felt like a speckled trout bite and not like any bream I’ve ever caught. When I asked Catch why he wasn’t using a strike indicator, he said the fish wouldn’t hit it with the indicator on. He figured the water was too clear (we had about 5 feet of visibility) and the fish were spooked by the strike indicator. Once again, I had to sit there and watch Glen catch fish after fish, while I caught one or two every now and then. My luck soon improved and I was landing fish like this:GOPR3541.jpg

and even some like this:GOPR3542.JPG

We both remarked at how these strong fighting fish would actually pull our kayaks! We called it the Kisatchie Sleigh Ride. Not only did they pull us around, but they pulled us agains the wind too. It was a ton of fun on my five weight!

Meanwhile, Catch kept on with some more like thisIMG_0711.JPG

and even a monster crappie that measured 16.5 inches! (sorry, the picture was taken on his camera and I don’t currently have a picture of it)

When the day was over, we had iced down about 15 fat sacalait, about a dozen fat chinquapin and about another dozen fat bluegill. This is a large 48-quart ice chest. IMG_0725.JPG

My stringer looked like this. That’s minus the 5 I had put in the ice chest in the car before we left out for a second time. IMG_0714.jpg

My largest chinquapin was over 10 inches and was bigger than my hand. IMG_0722.jpg

And here are a couple of Fat Tuesday slabs:IMG_0719.JPG

This was definitely the most productive fishing I’ve done in the Kisatchie area with Glen. I’m already looking forward to another chance to not only fish these waters but to fish them with such a fun-loving, nice, gentleman, who has a zest for life and a passion for fishing like I do.

Happy New Year!

Happy 2017 to you. The end of 2017 went out with a bang as I became a proud grandpa. Hudson Victoria was born December 22. She’s already working on her “Heisman” pose.

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I can’t wait until I can get that cutie in a kayak!

Anyway, this is a fishing blog so I’ve got to get to the fishing. 🙂

I’ve been kind of land locked since Thanksgiving. I did manage a couple of nice bass in the lakes by my daughter’s house in Texas between Christmas and New Year’s. I haven’t been able to time my days off with the good weather. I have, however, been able to sneak out for a couple morning and afternoon trips to my neighborhood lake to try a few new flies that I’ve tied. The bream have been cooperating. In fact, I kept a couple that were over 8.5 inches this afternoon to put in a frying skillet. These guys were caught on a fluff butt on my 3 wt. Lots of fun! I actually caught 2 dozen or more in an hour and a half. IMG_0588.jpg

I also managed to land two chunky bass too. IMG_0587.JPG

The water has been warm and these guys fought hard.

I have plans to put some fly tying tutorials on my blog in 2017, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, I haven’t decided if I’m going to try to do my species challenge this year or just keep up with my numbers of bass, speckled trout, and redfish caught liked I’ve done for the past two years. Let me know in the comments below what you think. Here are some of what I’ve been tying the past few months.crease flies.JPGThese crease flies (poppers) were killer on the bass last year. I probably caught around 100 on these alone. IMG_3200.JPGThe next deadly fly for bass was my frog popper. I also tried one of those double barrel flies.IMG_0589.JPG
Here, I’ve tied a couple versions of the now infamous mop flies.IMG_0592.JPGIMG_0594.JPG

And a few round dinnys. IMG_3060.jpg

I’ve also been playing around with a few of these: (Looper Spineless Minnow) and I’m trying my hand at deer-hair poppers. I’ll post a few pictures of those when I finally get something that looks presentable 🙂

 

Fishing with Glen, the Gobbule Getter :)

Each year, I try to make a trip to the frigid north (that’s anywhere north of Alexandria, LA for those of you not from Louisiana) and fish with a good friend and fly fishing buddy of mine, Glen Cormier. Most people just know him as “Catch Cormier.”  I may have posted this on an earlier post but it’s worth mentioning again that Catch first got me into the sport of kayak fishing.  I taught his daughter for four years at St. Michael High School and he would sometimes pick her up from after school band practice with one or two kayaks strapped to the top of his car. I was a bay boat fisherman at the time and I asked him what were the kayaks for. He told me that he fished out of them and I asked him where? He promptly replied, “just about anywhere I can.” After pestering Glen for some time about what kind of kayak to buy, he helped me pull the trigger on my first kayak, my Wilderness Tarpon. I used to call it Doc’s Yellow Submarine. It’s a great kayak that paddles very fast and tracks well.

Anyway, I kept trying to set up a trip to fish with Glen so I could pick his brain (he is a walking encyclopedia about fishing and you’ve probably seen me reference some of Cormier’s Laws about Fishing on this blog) but we couldn’t agree to a date until I decided to jump in and purchase a fly rod. I think it’s no coincidence that Glen finally made his calendar clear when I offered to fish with him and leave the “Commie” tackle back home. By the way, Commie tackle refers to anything NOT related to the fly rod. 🙂 Well, we’ve been fishing buddies since then.

As long as I’m explaining a few terms here, the word gobbule, as defined by Catch himself, means: Any sunfish.  The term sunfish is too passive for this hard-fighting members of the Centrachid family.

Last week, I ventured to Glen’s home in Boyce to fish the Kisatche lakes (Valentine, Cotille, and Kincaid). Since I was getting there the last week of June, our expectations weren’t very high for bass, but we hoped to get on some of the great bream or gobbule fishing those lakes have to offer. It took us a while to find them but when we did, we were rewarded with a bunch of these hard fighters
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Many of these fish would have been “frying pan” worthy, but we were just releasing them this week and thanking them for the fight. Speaking of fight, there were several bream that made Catch’s 6 wt. double over. You can only imagine how much fun it was to catch these “bream with an attitude” on a 3 wt!

Another thing that makes fishing with Glen is the scenery. Glen and his wife are now retired and they have some of the most picturesque waters and woods in their back yard.

Even in the extreme heat, I was able to land one nice bass on a crease fly popper. It’s the largest bass that I’ve caught in PUBLIC waters this year, which means that it is…well would have been eligible for the Massey’s CPR Tournament. Sad to say, that after I took this picture, it flopped back into the water.

 

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Nice bass on the crease fly

Here are a couple pictures from the rest of the trip
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Chinquapin!
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Glen used his son’s Jackson. It looks like we’re on Pro Staff for Team Jackson! 🙂

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Following Doctor’s Orders

So I went in for my follow up check up with my hand surgeon and when I asked him about physical therapy he said,”anything you want to do.” “Go fishing, play your horn…go fishing.” Well I did just that. I had a couple of hours to spare before getting supper ready and going to our dress rehearsal with the incomparable, Rene` Fleming so I went fishing in the neighborhood lake. I took only my 3 wt, and another 5 wt rigged with bream flies. I must have landed about 2 dozen small bream but nothing to really brag about.

The afternoon did get interesting when I made a good cast by some cypress knees and immediately got a small 7-inch bass to eat. No sooner had I hooked the juvenile bass than a larger behemoth bass inhaled my fish. It took off and made a pass under my kayak. I let him run for a while but it decided to spit the baby bass back out. I landed it. It had a few scales knocked off but I think it will make it. I revived it and sent it off on its way. I continued to make a couple more casts in the same area and hooked another small bass and a couple of bream when my phone rang. It was my wife, so I figured I had better take the call. She was wondering where I was and what was for dinner. You know. The usual 5 PM phone conversation. After a couple minutes on the phone, I picked up my 3 wt. and went to make a cast when I realized that something had eaten my #10 frog popper. When I got the slack out, I realized is was big. I made sure to strip set the hook but the dog gone thing rose to the top and spit my popper back at me. It must have been over 20 inches! Oh well, I know where I’m going to start fishing the next time I hit that lake 🙂

On the way back in, I ran into a guy who was bank fishing and he pointed out that there were monster red-ear bream on beds. Sure enough, I saw some nice big bream on beds. Try as I might though, I couldn’t get them to eat anything. They were definitely set on guarding the beds and were not in an eating mood. I’ll be back for them too. I just have to catch them before they head out of the area completely after the spawn.

Sorry no pictures this trip. I’ll try to get back on the water somewhere this weekend.

Fishing before “Stormageddon”

I actually didn’t know what to title this post. Fun in the neighborhood lake? Making lemonade out of lemons? Fun on my 3 wt. Anyway, we got the day off of school today because of the forecast violent, stormy weather. As I type this, I’m listening to the TV weatherman report sightings of tornados, funnel clouds, and water spouts. A tornado did actually touch down about ten miles as the crow flies from my house. How was the weather here? Well, I got out on the lake with little or no wind early this morning before the rain started.

I fished the upper lake in my neighborhood and landed 7 bass and five chinquapin that will hit some hot grease this Friday 🙂 All my fish were caught on a fluff butt under a VOSI on my 3 wt.!!  I tried to target bass but couldn’t get a hit on normal bass flies. When I changed to the fluff butt (to target chinquapin) that’s when I began getting big bass bites.

Since it was my first trip in our neighborhood lake, I took the opportunity to “reel in” some of the trash I found. What a mess! I noticed that most of it was light plastic that simply blew off decks and backyard patios. IMG_3472

I did reel in some of these:IMG_3473

and 7 of these:

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The largest was 16.5!IMG_3471
I had 2 big ones break me off on some structure too. I’ve got to get on my vice and replenish my fluff butt inventory.
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